Do you know how wide doorways need to be for wheelchair users to pass through them without difficulty?
We will discuss different types of wheelchairs, how they measure up, and ways homeowners can make their doors more accessible.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that new construction include standard doorways, which measure 32 inches in width. That width allows for passage by individuals using wheelchairs and those who use crutches.
Wheelchairs may vary in size from 17 to 33 inches. Standard wheelchairs are around 25 inches wide. Although most standard wheelchairs can pass through a standard doorway, larger ones may not.
Having a basic understanding of ADA standards, let’s look at the different wheelchairs and see which will work best for you.
Wheelchair Sizes and Considerations
Wheelchair size is crucial for both comfort and mobility inside your home. Before choosing a wheelchair for your home, consider the following.
How Wide Is a Wheelchair?
The standard wheelchair measurements are 25 inches wide, 36 inches tall, and 32 inches long.
Transport wheelchairs are generally smaller than standard-sized wheelchairs, with a width of 17 to 24 inches. They are therefore more compact and easier to transport.
How Much Do Wheelchairs Weight?
In addition to considering the physical dimensions of the wheelchair, you should also consider how much weight it can support.
Standard wheelchairs weigh 35 pounds, up to 60+. And transport chairs range in weight up to 35 pounds.
Additionally, you’ll want to consider the weight limitations of a wheelchair. Most basic wheelchairs have a 250-350 lb weight limit. Lightweight models are rated 200-250 lbs, and heavy-duty chairs are up to 700+ lbs.
Wheelchair users often have to keep track of their weight, but weighing someone in a wheelchair is not easy. So we have another piece of article on the question, “How to weigh someone in a wheelchair?“.
Whatever your size, consider if accessories are adjustable for your height before buying a wheelchair.
Taller users generally need a deeper seat, and shorter users require adjustable footrests.
Types of Manual Wheelchairs
There are many unique wheelchairs, and it can be hard to decide which is best for you or your family member.
Below are some common manual wheelchair types that hospitals and home care agencies use most often.
Often referred to as “traditional” or “classic” wheelchairs, these are for use by people with a wide range of mobility needs.
These include people with lower-limb paralysis (such as spinal cord injuries) or other conditions that make it difficult to get around by walking.
Lightweight wheelchairs are a good option for people who need to travel frequently, as they can fold up into the trunk of a car.
However, they’re also more expensive than standard wheelchairs.
Ultra-lightweight wheelchairs are ideal for people looking for a wheelchair that’s easy to transport and store.
They’re also perfect for people with limited upper body strength since they’re lighter than standard wheelchairs.
Bariatric wheelchairs are generally for people with more body weight or other medical conditions that make it difficult for them to use standard-sized chairs.
These chairs are wider, up to 30 inches, and have a higher weight capacity (up to 700 lbs). They cost more than standard wheelchairs since they require special reinforcement braces.
Transport wheelchairs get used in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.
The smaller size allows users of transport chairs to fit through tight spaces better than they would be able to if they were using regular-sized wheelchairs with larger wheels.
Updating Your Home
So you’ve found a wheelchair that is the correct size, weight, and height for you.
However, the concern that arises is whether it will fit through your doorways. You’ll want to make sure it can get through the doors of your home.
Another thing to note is that a wheelchair can easily damage walls. We have another piece of article about how to protect walls from wheelchair damage.
You can update aspects of your home even if the wheelchair is larger than the standard size.
Here are four ways to enlarge doorways for your wheelchair.
1. Change Hinges to Offset Hinges
Offset hinges are an easy way to make a doorway wider.
You can install them on your existing door to replace your current hinges.
Offset hinges allow the door to swing entirely outside the jamb adding width to existing door openings.
At best, offset hinges can add almost 2 inches of clear space to the opening.
These offset hinges from Stone Harbor Hardware come in two sizes. Be sure to know the thickness of the door so that you get the right size hinge.
2. Remove Trim From the Doors
Removing trim from the sides of the doorway can make it wide enough for your chair.
If you have a door with trimming, try removing just one side first and see how much easier it is to get through.
If it’s still a tight fit, remove the other side and see if that improves accessibility.
3. Remove Doors
If your wheelchair almost fits through the door without any trim, then you can remove the door entirely.
That will not only make it easier to get through, but it will also save you time and money. You also won’t have to worry about replacing a damaged or broken door after an accident.
4. Cut Larger Opening
If removing the trim and door does not make the doorway passable enough, you may need to cut a new opening in your sheetrock wall.
If that’s beyond your skill level or comfort zone, hire a professional contractor to do it for you.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
Wondering what is the width of a wheelchair? Below are some of the frequently asked questions about wheelchair width.
Can a Standard Wheelchair Fit Through a 30-Inch Door?
Because of ADA accessibility standards, a standard wheelchair (width 25 inches) can fit through the average door (32 inches)
How Wide Does a Door Need to Be for a Walker?
ADA recommends that doorways have a minimum opening of 32 inches and a maximum threshold of 48 inches.
Walkers often fit best through entrances between 34 to 36 inches wide.
What Is the Narrowest Wheelchair Available on the Market?
The narrowest wheelchair is 21 inches wide. It can fit through a standard door (32 inches).
No matter what wheelchair you choose, it’s imperative to consider how well the chair fits your body and how comfortable it will be in different environments (here is more info on how to measure for a wheelchair at the Preferred Health Choice website).
If your wheelchair is standard size, it will fit through most doorways.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sets the guidelines for doorway widths and clearances. If your home got built before ADA standards, there are things you can do to correct the situation.
Another place where accessibility comes into play is the various ramps. Simply installing a ramp does not necessarily guarantee safety. People must also know how to use ramps safely when assisting wheelchair users.